The Virginia Community College System (hereafter referred to as VCCS) seeks proposals from qualified firms to furnish a wide variety of marketing, advertising, media, communications, public relations, and related services.
Virginia’s community colleges serve an estimated 400,000 people across the state. VCCS’ Shared Service Center Contracts Department has a particular interest in consolidating procurement efforts to maximize benefits for all college system users and wisely spend taxpayer dollars.
VCCS requires marketing, advertising, media, communications, public relations, branding, and similar services for a variety of outcomes. Activities in support of VCCS agencies range from the collection of data, research, and analysis, to development and planning of strategies for marketing and public relations campaigns, to branding and image elevation, to staging and producing video and audio content, to buying broadcast, social media, signage, and other digital and printed mediums. Since many advertising and marketing consultants have a specialty focus, this RFP provides for flexibility in responses and asks offerors to select the types of goods and services they wish to propose in response. It is not required that a contractor provide ALL types of goods and services sought. The included Attachment 5 – Price Schedule allows offerors to indicate which classifications of goods and services they intend to provide. These classifications are further detailed under Section IV. STATEMENT OF NEEDS, Subsection A. PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS.
Similarly, VCCS sites and colleges are located throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, and it is not required that a contractor provide services to ALL sites. The RFP provides for offerors to indicate which VCCS colleges and sites they can serve using the provided Attachment 6 – VCCS Colleges/Sites to be Served.
Currently, each college in the VCCS system exercises individual authority over budgets and marketing efforts. In addition, centralized campaigns covering multiple college/site needs may be desirable in the future. Actual projects and costs for these services will vary greatly; however, the system-wide estimate for combined advertising and marketing efforts is $10,000,000 over a five (5) year period.
Scope of Work:
VCCS agency projects vary from general advertising services and basic marketing campaigns to complex projects requiring strategic planning, research and/or analysis for the development of strategies intended to achieve specific academic, community-focused, politically motivated, and other agency goals. Some projects may be short term, while others require ongoing support, monitoring, and other activities to be performed over a longer period of time.
VCCS agency goals may include retaining/recruiting students and/or employees, branding and methodologies to improve/change public perception or awareness, promoting or inspiring programs for academic success, and partnering with other institutions of higher education or community businesses/agencies for mutually beneficial outcomes. Promotional activities to include but not be limited to those for campus events, honors colleges, consortia agreements, workforce development programs, the arts, and sports and athletic programs.
The successful contractor(s) shall efficiently and effectively execute all appropriate elements of a campaign or project and assist in the evaluation of its effectiveness, striving for maximum return on investment. Contractors shall adhere to VCCS agency visual communication standards where applicable.
Any combination of the following services may be required.
- Data Gathering, Market Research and Analysis
- Contractor shall collect pertinent and relevant data, perform research, draft, and recommend advertising and additional marketing campaigns compatible with VCCS agency goals.
- Qualitative research studies may be required to develop system-wide marketing strategies.
- Advertising strategies must be based on sound research. The Contractor shall evaluate and report the ongoing effectiveness of advertising placed on behalf of VCCS agencies.
The Contractor shall analyze and utilize marketing research information to:
- Gauge changes in market conditions, and use the information to improve marketing, collateral creative, strategy development, and overall communications effectiveness.
- Where applicable, determine the number of inquiries and calculate the rate of conversion of inquires generated by an advertising or marketing program.
- Determine the overall effectiveness and return on investment an advertising or marketing program provides.
- Development of Communications Concepts, Planning, and Budget
- The Contractor shall develop communications concepts based on VCCS agency marketing initiatives and goals, in consultation with end-user(s).
- Determine what types of communication, media, and/or messages are most effective in communicating the desired message, and apply this information to develop future communications.
- Develop advertising and marketing concepts that communicate message points as stated in the campaign plan. The plan shall include but not be limited to communications goals and strategies; total media expenditures; production budget; required research; media schedule; and Contractor’s fees, where applicable.
- Modify plans as a result of budget changes or at the request of the VCCS agency.
- Work with VCCS agency staff to assure that expenditures do not exceed advertising budgets without prior written approval.
- Provide monthly budget updates.
- Creative Services; Strategic Planning and Management
- Contractor shall propose a creative approach to the strategic planning and management of VCCS agency information, branding, advertising, communications, promotional and marketing subject matter and materials.
- In consultation with the end-user(s), the Contractor may assist in annual strategic marketing planning including, but not limited to recommending advertising, print, and electronic marketing campaigns, based upon sound brand management strategies and research.
- Contractor shall translate advertising and marketing goals into creative strategies and then into advertising and marketing communications concepts that provide maximum exposure, impact and return on investment.
- Developing overall campaigns based on media and marketing strategies based upon approved goals.
- Providing services to place, verify, measure, and make timely disbursements for all advertising placements.
- Developing and executing creative strategies for advertising and marketing elements, in consultation with VCCS agency end-users.
- Developing and monitoring creative and production budgets, in consultation with VCCS agency end-users.
- Evaluating, hiring and administering subcontractors, as requested by VCCS agency end-users, including, but not limited to, production companies; software and social media firms; billboard firms; market research firms; digital media specialists;videographers; actors/extras; photographers; graphic designers; and media buying services.
- Developing direct marketing strategies to support system-wide and community college campaigns.
- Leveraging VCCS agency resources with current and potential partners, including but not limited to advertising, marketing and/or public relations partnerships between VCCS agencies and business/industry; K-12 systems; four-year colleges and universities; community partners; and other organizations that support education and workforce needs.
- Media Planning/Buying
- The Contractor shall translate advertising, marketing goals, and strategies into effective media plans and buys, which may include but are not limited to television, radio, print, and advanced digital and mobile advertising. A schedule of media buys shall be prepared and presented to the end-user for pre-approval.
- Media planning shall include incorporation of approved research and shall demonstrate the ability to leverage advertising dollars for maximum delivery through value-added merchandising and off-rate card negotiation and other benefits.
- Execute advertising and marketing campaigns that accurately address VCCS agency services and goals utilizing proven capabilities for high quality and cost efficiency.
- Maintain timelines and deadlines, while keeping all appropriate staff informed of project status.
- Maintain approved production budgets. No budget shall be exceeded without prior written approval by stakeholders.
- Manage the creation and/or production of collateral material, including but not limited to, videos, advertisements, newsletters, brochures, event materials (i.e. signage and programs) and audience-specific direct mailings, upon request by a VCCS agency.
- The Contractor shall schedule a meeting or conference call with the designated stakeholder to discuss and confirm that specific goals are thoroughly understood. If commercial production is required, the Contractor must bring a creative/production person to the meeting or include him/her in the conference call. The commercial production agent shall act as a subcontractor of the Contractor without mark-up. There shall be no obligation on the part of any VCCS agency until the project approach and or written Contractor proposal activities are approved by the agency.
- Electronic/Digital and Direct Mail Marketing
- Develop electronic/digital marketing programs to work in concert with VCCS agency marketing initiatives, if requested.
- Develop direct mail marketing programs to work in concert with VCCS agency advertising and marketing initiatives and goals, including obtaining and providing audience-specific mailing lists and creating mailings as needed.
Commonwealth of Virginia
Virginia Community College System
Shared Services Center
147 Daleville Centre Drive
Daleville, Virginia 24083